Rosewood Mayakoba: Overcoming the Empowerment Paradox

Many companies, especially in the service industry, create a hierarchy that falls into what I like to call, the empowerment paradox. An unforgivable sin, this misguided approach bestows a declining degree of empowerment unto employees further down the corporate ladder, who have increasing degree of visibility to the client. Let me say that another way…

The executives and upper managers, with whom customers will never interact, are empowered to make decisions. The lower the salary and further down the food chain, the less empowered the employees get. The front-line staff interact with the customer more than any other employees, but are typically the least empowered to solve customer problems.

This is not the case at the Rosewood Mayakoba. I had the pleasure of staying at this resort for eight days this past November. The resort was remarkable for many reasons; I couldn’t help but call out the empowerment bestowed upon the front-line employees.

I had scanned the gift-shop for some bath soaps and lotions for use in the enormous marble bathtub in the suite. After speaking with the store clerk, I found that they didn’t have what I was looking for. When I returned to the room, I found a nice selection of bath soaps and lotions on a decorative tray in the bathroom. After I left she must have called the concierge and had an assortment brought to my room. I was delighted, and a bit shocked (partly because I insisted in having the conversation in Spanish, which, needless to say, isn’t my first language. She spoke fluent English, but I feel it is my responsibility to do my best speaking in the native language)

After one or two encounters, the staff began addressing me as SeƱor Twark. I was amazed at the speed with which everyone committed to memory the faces of the guests. I was known very quickly as the person who declined golf-cart rides in favor of walking, and the person who was trying to interact in Spanish. Throughout the trip, they exposed me to more and more Spanish vocabulary, and spoke slowly when using new words. They explored what I knew, and gave me a minute to think before immediately switching to English.

The front-line staff at the Rosewood Mayakoba genuinely care about every guest in the resort; that much is clear. They leap into action over any question, let alone the actual requests. It’s more than just customer service. Housekeeping is trained to put the robes and towels in their specific locations within the suite, but they’re empowered to change that when they observe me leaving them in a different place. A small detail, perhaps, but that detail will serve them well the next time I book a vacation.